8 Legal Marketing Mistakes that Kill Growth (& How to Avoid Them)

August 14, 2018

Marketing is the lifeblood of your law firm. Planning, building and executing an effective strategy will be the biggest driver of new traffic, leads AND cases to your law firm.

In today’s digital landscape there’s no shortage of marketing channels. With so many options, it’s hard to know where to allocate budget for the highest ROI.

While there is no single marketing roadmap for a legal practice, there are specific strategies to leverage and potholes to avoid. And, the latter is the topic of this post.

We’ll highlight 8 marketing mistakes that cost law firms a lot of time and money (and how to avoid them).


1. View Marketing as an Expense vs. Investment

Your marketing budget should never be viewed as an expense. Full stop.

Marketing is an investment in the success and future of your firm. The end goal should be new clients and the creation of a sustainable revenue channel.

Dips in ROI are often met with budget cuts. But, before you pull out the hatch, re-evaluate where and how the firm is spending marketing dollars each month. A reallocation of funds is usually all it takes to grease the wheels and immediately grow the bottom line.

Monitoring channel performance doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. For example, we’re able to pull in all the KPIs from Google Analytics and populate them in a free Google Data Studio template:

This allows our clients to log in and get a real-time view of traffic, lead and conversion performance.

Want to know which channels will give your firm the greatest ROI? Get a free digital needs assessment here.



2. Fail to Watch the Competition

Don’t reinvent the wheel. When it comes to sourcing content topics that resonate with your target audience, leverage the heavy lifting already done by the competition.

Below is an example of how a larger law firm would use Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool to find a term competitors are ranking for, but they are not.

Go to the Site Explorer and enter your domain. Click on the Content Gap link on the left side of the page:

You’ll see a page where you can enter up to 10 different competitors.  Make sure the toggle “at least one of the targets should rank in the top 10” is checked. This will help surface more relevant results:

Knowing what keywords direct competitors are ranking for, that you are not, will highlight critical gaps in your overarching content strategy.


The step above will help you identify new areas where you can be getting more organic traffic. But, you can also use competitor insights to build more profitable PPC campaigns.

Drop a competitor’s domain into SEMrush and you’ll get a list of all the keywords they are bidding on in the AdWords auction, along with the ranking position, monthly search volume and a bunch of other data points:

The ad copy they are using to win the click:

And landing pages used to convert traffic into cases:

These insights will save you time, and help reduce wasted ad budget.

Bonus Resource: PPC for Law Firms: A Tactical 5-Step Guide to Profitable Campaigns


3. Don’t Have a Localized Marketing Strategy

Two-thirds of people looking for an attorney start their search online, and 70% of those people will only engage attorneys listed in the top three local results:

What does this mean for your firm?

If you aren’t showing up on the map, a few things happen:

  • You’ll lose clients to the competition.
  • Leads dry up every time PPC campaigns get paused.
  • Client acquisition costs increase.
  • Profitability suffers.

Bottom line: showing up in the maps is the backbone of your local search presence and critical to generating a consistent stream of qualified case leads each month.

Ranking in the maps is outside the scope of this post, but we have put together a comprehensive 8-step framework for how we land clients at the top of the maps here.

Or, you can watch Ryan’s video overview below:


4. Neglect Online Reputation

97% of consumers read online local business reviews, and 85% of consumers trust reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

Even if you rank highly for the right keywords, a poor online reputation will derail it all:

The social proof that comes with a high number of quality reviews will differentiate your practice, build trust, and win clicks in the search results.

88% of consumers form an opinion by reading up to ten reviews. Having an automated system in place to request reviews from clients immediately following a positive interaction is essential to building a winning reputation.

Want to build a better online reputation? Find out how Virayo’s proprietary review platform can 5x your positive review count in 60 days here.


5. Fail to Take a “Mobile-First” Approach

On March 26, 2018 Google officially announced crawling, indexing, and ranking systems would no longer be using the desktop version of a website’s content to rank pages.

Sounds complex, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. This image provides a simplified explanation:


If you see a message like this in your Search Console account, mobile-first indexing has already been enabled for your site:

Google states that “mobile-first indexing means the Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking, to better help our (primarily mobile) users find what they’re looking for.”

Mobile searches now outnumber desktop. BrightEdge reports nearly 80% of all keywords, and 47% in the top twenty positions rank differently between mobile and desktop SERPs.  

It is more important than ever to have a responsive, fast-loading site that provides a great user experience across all devices.

You can run a basic check now using Google’s free mobile-friendly testing tool here:


6. Fail to Adopt a Full-Funnel Content Strategy

The buying process has changed. Consumers are more educated than ever before, and the power is in the hands of the buyer. In fact, 90% of the buyer journey is over before a salesperson or business ever speaks to a lead.

This shift in behavior means law firms need to approach their content strategy differently.

Specifically, content needs to be aligned with each stage of the funnel.


Most businesses should start with a “bottom-up” approach to their keyword and content strategies.

(i.e. focus on mapping bottom funnel service-related keywords to the URL structure on your site)

You want to go after the people with higher “buying” intent.

Here are a couple examples of this type of targeting:    

These are perfect examples of bottom funnel service-based keywords. These terms may not always drive the highest volume of traffic, but the people searching for them will have more intent to hire an attorney.

Bottom-funnel searches should be accompanied by a landing page that aligns directly with the needs of the user searching those terms, presents the value proposition, incorporates social proof, and has a clear call-to-action above and below the fold:

Once you’ve set up the appropriate service landing pages for bottom funnel topics, switch attention to higher volume informational keywords that will make your target audience aware of a problem and answer questions that arise during the research phase of the buying process. Here is an example of content targeting an informational search:

These types of assets are perfect for potential clients who may not be ready to hire an attorney but are doing research on the steps to take when in an accident. These type of informational posts not only keep you top of mind but also position your brand as a trusted authority during the decision-making process.

Bonus resource: In this video, I break down how to find content topics that drive qualified leads to your legal practice:


7. Forget to Re-Engage Warm Traffic

Approximately 96% of visitors that come to your website do not convert. And most firms do nothing to re-engage these prospects. Huge mistake!

Retargeting campaigns allow you to re-engage specific segments of your audience who have indicated a direct interest in the services you offer.

For example:

A personal injury law firm might create a campaign to retarget anyone visiting their car accident service page with a downloadable checklist of what to do after being in an accident, or a video of an attorney walking them through the steps.

Here is an example of an ad retargeting people who visited an immigration attorney’s website:


A law firm could collect email addresses of people downloading the asset and put them into a nurture sequence. Effectively moving warm leads through the buying funnel.

An important note to keep in mind is some of the unique challenges attorneys face when creating remarketing campaigns. Especially when it comes to what type of data you collect, and the language you use in your remarketing ads.

In recent years Google has bolstered its policy when it comes to what type of sensitive information may be used for retargeting purposes. Here are a few of the prohibited categories attorneys should be on the lookout for:  

  • Personal Health Information – If your firm advertises to people suffering from specific medical conditions, physical or mental, you may not use that information to specifically retarget them. This can also apply to personal injury attorneys retargeting specifically to the types of injuries suffered.
  • Negative Financial Status – Example: Bankruptcy lawyers may not use this information to serve personalized remarketing ads.
  • Relationship statuses – This prohibits divorce attorneys (and others) from directly targeting those they know to be going through personal hardships in their relationships.

These restrictions dictate that language used in retargeting ads needs to be very specific. Instead of “Have you been injured in a car accident?” it should be worded “If you have been in a car accident…”

This is not a reason to ignore remarketing all together, as ignoring these warm-audiences is a bad strategy, but it means you should take extra time and care when crafting your remarketing ad copy.


8.  Don’t Measure the Right Growth Metrics

“In God We Trust; Others Must Provide Data” is how firms should view their marketing strategy.

When measuring performance it is essential to look at the right growth metrics. Here are some of the most important KPI’s to include in your reporting dashboard:

Organic Traffic (Brand vs Non-Brand) – One of the main goals to any SEO campaign should be to increase organic traffic from non-branded keywords. This means traffic directed to your site with searches that DO NOT include your brand name.

Tracking which non-branded keywords are driving traffic to your site will give you valuable insights into how clients who don’t already know who you, are finding your firm.

You can find these keywords in Search Console under Status >> Performance, and filtering out branded keywords.

# New Leads: A lead is an unqualified prospect that’s starting to show buying behavior. There are different types of leads (MQLs and SQLs).

We’re typically more interested in increasing the volume of SQLs for law firms (i.e. someone who has shown strong buying behavior and has been vetted by marketing and sales for the next sales stage. Think: someone who filled out a form to set up a free case consult)

Cost-Per-Lead – How much money are you paying for each lead. Critical to understanding marketing channel ROI.

Opportunities: A sales opportunity has been qualified, contacted by sales and shown a direct intent to do business with you.

Opportunity-Close-Rate – Leads and opportunities are great, but if none of them close its all for nothing. This metric will give you insight into overall lead quality and sales pipeline performance.

ROI – Saving the most important for last. The number on the left side of the ratio needs to be higher than the one on the right. If it isn’t, you’re losing money.

Knowing which campaigns are driving the highest ROI will allow you to properly allocate budget to scale the growth of your law firm.


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